He may not have been the biggest name in the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics trade, but Jae Crowder could quite possibly be the biggest contributor that the Cavs received in the trade during the upcoming season, depending on how and when Isaiah Thomas makes a full recovery from his torn labrum.
Although the trade was just completed on August 30, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue is already working on ways to utilize Crowder’s versatility, both offensively and defensively throughout the upcoming season.
Some seem to think that the 27-year-old will be used off the bench as LeBron James’ backup, but Lue believes that, along with using him as a weapon in the second unit, Crowder can create plenty of mismatches with the starters as well. According to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, although the season doesn’t start for another six weeks, Lue is planning ahead and figuring out the best ways he can use the newest Cavalier.
Crowder may in fact come off the bench, but Lue is working on lineups that feature both James and Crowder, along with other lineups that feature him without No. 23 as well.
Because Crowder is a 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward who can guard shooting guards, wings, and even power forwards, his versatility will allow the Cavs to mess around and find mismatches. Cleveland can go big with Crowder, James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson on the court, where No. 23 is the point guard and have another shooter in there as well; or they can go somewhat small and have Crowder be the small forward, James the power forward, and Love as the big man. His defense will allow the Cavs can do so much more than they have over the past few years. It will also take a lot of the pressure off James defensively and allow him to focus more on offense as well.
Whether it’s his versatility, ability to guard multiple positions, not needing the ball to contribute on offense, or his hard-nosed defense, Crowder is quite an asset for the Cavs, one that will cost them just $22 million for the next three years.
Looking at the Golden State Warriors specifically, Crowder can guard Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and even Steph Curry at times through a seven-game series. Not bad, huh? It just shows how versatile he really is.
He may not have been the biggest name in the trade, but the versatile forward could take the wine and gold to the next level if Lue finds ways to use him to allow the Cavs to be the best team both offensively and defensively.